Gov't promises equality, but women find few jobs

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  • 5

    TrevorPeace1

    Talk about being behind the times! The article is correct in saying it's not just the corporations but the so-called 'family values' attitude of the male-dominated Japanese society that has caused the problem. And it's a BIG problem, as Japan will discover in another ten or twenty years, when all those men clinging onto their outdated 'I'm better than a woman' philosophy retire.

  • 2

    Iowan

    Want a career? Leave Japan.

  • 0

    Vincehwr

    The government seems really only interested in one aspect, it won't look at much needed issue. That's how incompetent it looks right now.

  • -3

    gaijinfo

    People have been conned into thinking that jobs are some "things" that are "provided" by big companies and governments.

    Only consumer demand will create more jobs, male OR female. And forget the myth about the "old boys network".

    If women could perform the SAME JOB for less pay, (as it is often alleged) then profit hungry companies would snap them up like mad.

    There's much more going here than simply getting a politician to say "Hire more women!"

  • 14

    kchoze

    One big factor has been omitted in the article: the Japanese expectation of overtime. Many women, especially mothers, have responsibilities in their home or for their children, they just cannot do the standard overtime that Japanese firms expect them to do. Firms know that and favor men instead, who are less likely to have those responsibilities because of the standard gender division of labor.

    The common idea that the regular work day should include hours of overtime is the primary disease that affects the Japanese workplace. Overtime should be exceptional, not usual. Not only does it wreak havoc with people's social lives and hurts working mothers, but it's not even efficient. It has been known for decades that the more hours you normally ask people to work, the less productive they will actually be. If someone gives his 100% over a typical 8-hour day, you can increase his output a bit by asking for overtime once in a while, but if you always extend his workday to 10 hours, then the employee will become less productive, maybe even giving only 80% of his previous hourly productivity, so that his output is the same, just spread on more hours.

    And this reality is evident in hourly productivity comparisons. Japan's hourly productivity is mediocre at best for a modern advanced economy, but France's hourly productivity is amongst the highest in the world, so is Germany's, and both are known for employees who do not work one minute more than according to their contract unless they're handsomely paid for it, and for the amount of vacation time they have. In fact, French and German workers are amongst the ones who work the least amount of hours every year on average (and Greece amongst the highest).

    Will Abe have the guts to question the overtime practices of Japanese firms? Or will criticism of it remain taboo?

  • 3

    smithinjapan

    And another Abe 'vow' that he cannot possibly live up to.

  • 1

    kakikaki

    The main problem is that the family system has no value . . . japanese have no family value as in the west, no family culture like in the west!

    This is mainly attributed to the fact that japan only recently (about 60years) have adopted a western type of individualistic values, which lack the western individualistic family value pattern.

    Man still in 2014 can live like little Napoleons and do so, women are not respected, at least not morally or attitude wise. Even the young boys at a certain age get these attitudes, as they copy what they see from their fathers.

    Not many japanese couples see them selves as an indivisible body of lovers with a future that favorites both of them and their offspring . . . . its actually the reverse case, japanese family culture forbids such individualistic selfish reasoning. This is the reason every one bows down in front of the work place and overtime dilemma. The west puts down its efforts with a "our children first" mind set, japan put male pride and sempai culture first.

    I switch work between japan and europe and its shocking to see the value difference in japan. Europeans from the lowest worker to the company boss, agree that time is money, because everyone wants to spend as much time as possible with the people they love . . . seems obvious, but in japan this is not normal.

    At the very end the japanese, now in their thirties, are spoiled do to the fact that their parents are ultra spoiled to to the lack of affection, support, consideration and love they got from the WW2 generation, which are their parents and the later one's grand parents. Some books exist on this, estimate 10.000.000 males in WW2 were subject to a hardcore patriarchial family system, their offspring despite being born in the baby boomer years and sky rocking economy, are a lost generation mostly looking for identity as their parents didn't give any to them, other then old feudal residuals as fake honor, obedience and male pathos.

  • 1

    ThonTaddeo

    Smith, this is because Abe cares not a whit for gender "equality"; he wants women in the work force so that (1) households can more easily absorb the consumer price inflation that he wants to foist on them, and (2) they will pay taxes on the income they generate.

    Kchoze, good point about the overtime. My company also imposes long overtime hours, and while the few women who are willing to put those hours in are given the same meager rewards the men are, women at least can express a desire not to work overtime, unlike their male peers. Until the standard of forcing salarymen to work 10-12 hours a day is rectified, we will never see gender-blind hiring policies in Japan. Why hire a woman who can go home at 5 PM when you can get a young man who will work until he collapses?

    One point in this article that I disagree with: the mention of the "Global Gender Gap Report", which supposedly measures "economic equality and political participation". I once read this report in full, down to the fine print, and I did not like what i saw. It would have been better titled the "Global Female Supremacy Report": it only counted gender gaps against a country if those gaps favored men! Gaps in women's favor were ignored. So a society in which women lived eight years longer than men got a perfect score in that department, whereas one where men lived a single month longer than women got a lower score. Same for income, education, political representation, et cetera.

    Reports like this one do nothing constructive. People who see them for the pseudo-scientific propaganda that they are might turn away from efforts at real gender equality, and people who swallow the propaganda won't be able to understand why more skeptical readers disagree with them. Japan should have no shame at all in ranking 100th or wherever they are this year: the entire ranking system is built on flawed, dishonest thinking.

  • 0

    sighclops

    I've been indirectly involved with the job market here for over 5 years now and I can tell you - two things are clear:

    1. Gender discrimination is rife
    2. Gender discrimination mixed with age discrimination is worse.

    This would be headline-worthy in my home country! I'm constantly dumbfounded that this is allowed to go on...

  • 1

    Cos

    Tamai is eager to do so, nearly two years after her first child was born, but so far the 35-year-old former national government employee

    This lady should not be looking for a job but going back to the former one after maternity leave. She had probably worked there full time 10 years, the country needs kids and workers they say. So why is she not taken back ? If government can't do that for its employees and show the example, why would private businesses do the effort ?

  • 0

    555Book

    I heard that women around the world in general are doing better than men in both school and work. I guess this is because women are made to behave more like men and in so doing, they adopt male characteristics. What this mean is that women actually have a bigger toolbox of values which they can use in handling problems. But men on the other hand are not encouraged to adopt women's values. Maybe that is why men find it more difficult to handle issues where reconciliation is involved. Men are strong outside but weak inside, women are weak outside but stronger inside. The modern day economy also seems to require more communication, like the internet and multimedia, so I think this change in the structure of the economy seems to favour values or skill sets that are traditionally the domain of women.

  • 2

    Jimizo

    In the past year I've seen 3 highly capable women quit my department and find work in the US and UK because they felt undervalued. Two were Science majors, one was Economics and all three had TOEIC scores over 800. Watching the men 'going to business trip' or checking barely comprehensible e-mails in English was exasperating to watch. Best of luck to those three highly capable women and given that they have plenty of common sense they won't be back here to work.

  • 3

    FernandoUchiyama

    My point of view is that Japan has no choice. Japan has one of the largest gender gaps in the world. Lots of old man and very few babies being born.

    If women does not fill this gap, what is going to be of japanese workforce?

    I live at Brazil, a country that does not discriminate women. 20 years ago women were housewifes, only man used to work. But nowadays both man and woman work. The proof is that our president, Dilma Roussef is a woman.

    The companies and the brazillian law are very flexible with woman. For example, a woman can not be fired if she is pregnant. She has the right to take maternity leave (at least 4 months and maximum of 6 months) and even the husband can take the parental live (maximum of 5 days). In this period the parents receive their full sallary.

    Also, parents must put their children at daycare centers while they are working.

    I don't know anything about japanese law and daycare center infrastructure. But as the way I see it, Japan needs very much of women`s workforce. And if the laws, flexibility and day care center infrastructure is not ideal, this will need to be changed to make it possible.

  • 0

    LH10

    WOW, LOVE your post kakikaki! i feel so sorry for the females in japan :( thank god i decided not to move to japan lolol phew

  • 2

    NeonFraction

    Well, small steps are better than none I suppose. I just wish this whole stupid mindset could be over with and we could have equality already.

  • 1

    hampton

    Abe has not really made the advancement of women a major policy. He is "Encouraging" and "asking" companies and organisations to oblige, instead of insisting Labor Law be followed or enacting new legislation. No Japanese government has ever wanted to encourage women to compete equally with men here, this one included.

    The government wants women to work bitty jobs and hourly-contracted positions so that it can keep a lid on immigration as the population declines. That's quite logical of course, but has little to do with equal rights. As other posters say, as long as Japan Inc. views a good worker as someone able and willing to remain at his post for a minimum 12 hours a day regardless of efficiency, nothing will change for Japanese women. The male-dominated mind-set remains firmly in place.

  • -2

    Jean ValJean

    " Sixty percent of working women quit after their first child is born."

    " Sixty percent of working women quit after their first child is born."

    " Sixty percent of working women quit after their first child is born."

    This factoid has a heavy influence on hiring. Employee turnover is a significant expense, whether male or female. But when one gender commonly chooses to leave the job, it's only rational for the company to select its future hires better.

  • 2

    kchoze

    Jean ValJean, except that this is largely the result of cultural attitudes and public policies that do not encourage working women to return to work after their first child is born.

    I come from the Canadian province of Québec and we have taken a lot of steps towards making it easier for women to return to work after having kids. We have a provincial system of generous maternal and paternal leave which preserves new parents' links with their jobs even as they take time off to take care of their baby and we have a subsidized, affordable and good quality childcare system, costing 7$ a day only to the parents. Since these measures have been put in place, women's employment rate has increased, and so has the birth rate. It also means higher taxes, but I think it's an investment, a society needs to provide incentives and support those who make the sacrifices to raise the next generation that the society will depend on.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Tamai is eager to do so, nearly two years after her first child was born, but so far the 35-year-old former national government employee has only been able to find an internship.

    This here is an issue. Tamai could have taken up to three years as a government employee and rather than do that, she quit. I am guessing she quit, found out that she either didn't like staying at home all day or realised that she can't afford to stay home all day. Now she expects a company to turn around and offer her a FT job? Sorry but nope. I don't understand why these women don't get how the job market works. Step of the ride and have a nice time trying to get back home. Japan actually has pretty decent mat leave - compared to most countries out there - but women QUIT and if they get pushed, they don't seek legal means to keep their job. If women want to be treated equally or better here, they have to take responsibility for their choices. The men aren't going to change their mindset if the women won't either.

    ** And forget the myth about the "old boys network".

    If women could perform the SAME JOB for less pay, (as it is often alleged) then profit hungry companies would snap them up like mad.

    There's much more going here than simply getting a politician to say "Hire more women!"**

    The old boy's club is very alive and well. Trust me.

    You'd think companies would ve smart and hire cheap labour - and actually many do. Look at the PT jobs for a fine example of that. However, many companies can't be bothered to hire women for decent FT positions even if they are cheaper because... they quit when they get married or have kids. See above.

    I agree there is much more going on here. Frankly, I wouldn't bother with the mommies who now realise they are bored or want a job after quitting. I would be focusing on the younger females and encouraging them - and the men - to make use of mat/pat leave, encourage female students to have goals that don't focus on finding a rich husband so they can stay at home and become PTA bullies. I would also insist that companies be given incentives for hiring more women and giving them the same opportunities they give the men. Tax cuts? More promotion? More chances to bid on projects? We all know Japan doesn't punish companies when they don't go with requests from the government so why not sweeten the pot instead?

  • 0

    FernandoUchiyama

    Complementing my comment above, to make this happen I think the japanese will have to change behaviour to be more flexible.

    Having both of the parents working and a child may eventually require that one of them be absent of work to bring the child to a doctor or a dentist, for example. The parents may have to use the lunch time to go somewhere buy diapers. Until where I know the japanese working/timing system is not that flexible.

    It may require that all job positions be really in flexible time format and to work with bank hours so the employee/collaborator may do like 5 hours in an day and compensate the other 3 hours in other days.

    Also, companies have to stop reprimanding the employee about the time they arrive and the time they go home (also at lunch time). Why someone would reprimand the employee for eventually doing like 1 hour and 20 minutes of lunch? If you do not trust your collaborator simply fire him instead of giving reprimands.

    It is a very serious matter because the quality of life would decrease while suicide rates and unhappiness grows.

    Another very important aspect that I have noticed in the brazillian case: In the last years, with both parents working, the Work Life and the Personal Life became merged into one singular thing, with coworkers actually having to help each other so the difficult of raising a child can be achieved (like: Ok, take it easy... you may go to the doctor because health is the more important than anything, you can go, I cover you). Also, to de-stress, coworkers will have to openly talk about personal matters at work. The employer will commonly see the employee using their work time to solve personal problems.

    Can Japan do/accept all these things? Because my point of view is that it is kind of required so to keep a minimum level of quality of life.

  • -2

    kakikaki

    Can't understand why you guys argue about western values in japan??

    Do you know of any japanese who live through western values???? There is none, either way, its never like in the US, where many parents have to fight through their lives to earn money to survive and raise children . . . they work long hours on different jobs at a time a day . . . . yet they do it for a living, any change for the better would be much welcome by them. (having more time for family and them selves is most of the time in front of earning more money, if the actual salary is enough to live decent)

    In japan money is an issue, but first of all the men are pathetic egoists, instead of fighting for better conditions on the workplace, they prefer obedience and don't meet family . . . that step is easy as they anyway don't know the benefit of true fathers raising kids and balancing work with skill and pride.

    Japan would be better off in a semi dictatorship, at least they would be efficient and males could live like patriarchs in a feudal system where its all about their pride, ego and pathos . . . . to embrace fully western values, many of them would need to default on them selves and acknowledge their family problems, coming from the a culture that is not that far away from the things we don't like in islam or the Taliban.

    In the west we can be proud to have fought the revolution, the revolution of basic human rights, the right to live free and not in a feudal hierarchy island jail.

  • 2

    Cos

    In physical aspects, men have broader shoulders and thus a stronger upper body strength. Women have a period once a month that varies in intensity and in some cases can make them too sick to work...

    ROFL. If that's the logic, in the facts women are stronger physically, much less sick over a lifetime, less prone to drink/smoke/addictions/overspeeding cars/dangerous sports/fights/wars and they live longer (my great-grand-mas survived spouses of 5 to 7 decades and did 100% of the hard farm work and family care, like millions of women after wars). So company should hire only women.

    men are more intelligent and capable of performing better under stress.

    On what planet ? Visit a jail someday.

    " Sixty percent of working women quit after their first child is born."

    It's BS. It's a line of propaganda repeated all the time. Primo : Less than 40% of Japanese women have children in their lifetime, and many are not working before having them. So the data is not even plausible.

    one gender commonly chooses to leave the job,

    Segundo : Most of my acquaintances in the situation did quit because they were "invited" to quit and if not, they'd have been fired with even less leaving benefits or harassed till they'd leave. A few companies want to retain female workers and arrange maternity leaves, part-times for a few years and they are not doing worse in business. It's a difference of mentality...or they have no choice. I know women that are doctors and nurses and due to the penury of staff in the profession, hospitals have changed of attitude and do anything to retain them after maternity. A woman told me that both her and her husband had a 80% schedule for childcare (their kids are teens), but their hospital was afraid of losing one full time experimented Japanese speaking doc. But maybe in future, companies will prefer getting foreign male young graduates that stay for a few month stint and they will deal with them in Chinese or Hindi... That's the alternative if Japanese businesses don't evolve.

  • -3

    falseflagsteve

    @ Cos, what is BS is saying women are stronger than men. Yeah, this is feminism gone mental, course there are tons of women, who play pro footy and tennis with men etc.. Women live longer due to the lack of testosterone. Eunoch's live 12 years longer than normal men and 7 years more than women. Longevity is down to hormones not strength.

    When people talk about friends or family as examples then that is not the average or norm and often they are fibbing. I notice mostly women use this tactic.

    • Moderator

      All readers back on topic please.

  • -4

    tmarie

    **Can't understand why you guys argue about western values in japan??

    Do you know of any japanese who live through western values????** Yes. I am married to one.

    ** but first of all the men are pathetic egoists, instead of fighting for better conditions on the workplace, they prefer obedience and don't meet family . . . that step is easy as they anyway don't know the benefit of true fathers raising kids and balancing work with skill and pride.**

    Interesting. The woman above, who QUIT her job, was entitled to up to three years off. If anyone has pathetic egos it is the women who believe they have a right to stay home. And whom then pay someone to look after their special little snowflakes at a kindergarten.

    If you were the sole breadwinner and had at least three mouths to feed, you wouldn't be fighting for better rights in a country that is known to make lifer miserable for those who speak up, more so at a time when people are losing their jobs. Working conditions will improve for men when it improves for women. And vice versa.

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